Wednesday, September 19, 2018

A New Hymn in Honor of St Januarius

We received the following message from Michael Schultz, a seminarian of the Archdiocese of Louisville. “I serve as the organist and director of sacred music at Bishop Brute Seminary in Indianapolis. This year, I have tried to implement a wider variety of hymnody, specifically the restoration of breviary hymns and devotional hymns for Saints’ feast days. I could not find a hymn in honor of St Januarius, so I composed this one. It is written in a more medieval style with allusions to his life, imprisionment, and the miracle of his blood. The suggested tune would be Winchester New L.M. or Jesu Dulcis Memoria, with optional ‘Amen.’ ” Our thanks to Mr Schultz for sharing his work with our readers.

The Martyrdom of St Januarius in the Amphitheatre at Pozzuoli, by Artemisia Gentileschi, 1636-7. Very often during the passions of the martyrs, Nature itself would refuse to cooperate with their persecutors, a fact already noted in the early 2nd century by St Ignatius of Antioch. This painting shows an episode of the Passion of St Januarius to which the hymn also refers, in which the wild beasts in the gladiatorial arena simply came up to him and lay down at his feet. (Public domain image from Wikipedia.)
What joy is greater than to know
your mighty courage, Gennaro?
You shed your blood for Him who died
the dark of sin to nullify.

Your light shone bright to all your flock,
you were their anchor and their rock;
And when to prision you were sent,
your faith, like chains, could not be bent.

In peace you gave your very life,
thrown to the beasts, you took the strife;
But they to you, refused attack,
no prayer, blest Martyr, did you lack.

And when the time for death drew near,
you offered your life without fear,
your blood gushed forth in liquid streams,
and still today, it flows serene.

All praise to You, whom Martyrs sing,
to you be praise, the Martyrs’ King,
and to the Spirit, one in love,
let this our hymn, transcend above. Amen.

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